New findings in the quest to build a working nuclear fusion reactor mean that the once distant dream of near-limitless, cheap, clean energy is slowly drawing closer. A team of physicists in Germany has successfully conducted a nuclear fusion experiment which marks a significant breakthrough for the technology. Nuclear fusion technology is inspired by the process which occurs at the centre of stars.
Once the technology is sufficiently advanced, scientists hope nuclear fusion could have the potential to provide a near limitless source of energy, using virtually inexhaustible raw materials such as seawater.
It is also generally agreed by scientists that nuclear fusion is much safer than nuclear fission – the process currently used in nuclear power plants that works by splitting atoms – because there is a negligible chance of a catastrophic accident and the technique does not produce any radioactive waste.
The first fusion reactor experiments were conducted in the 1950s but true fusion is extraordinarily difficult to achieve, hence why progress has been so slow.
If this is achieved and advances are made in other areas, scientists hope fusion reactors will have the potential to revolutionise the world’s energy supply within the next few decades.